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28/10/2021

Tipp Councillor calls proposed mega-pipeline an expensive white elephant

Tipp Councillor calls proposed mega-pipeline an expensive white elephant

Parteen Weir, located at the southern end of Lough Derg. Irish Water wants to build a mega-pipe from here all the way to Dublin.

The councillors of Tipperary County Council unanimously supported a motion during their monthly meeting on Monday calling for an independent review of the proposed pipe from Parteen Weir, Lough Derg to Dublin.
Cllr Seamus Morris had put his motion to September's meeting of Nenagh Municipal District but was told that it could only be passed or rejected by a meeting of the full County Council.
He therefore put the motion to Monday's meeting and was heartened when he received the full backing of every single councillor in the county.
“Unfortunately,” said Cllr Morris afterwards when speaking to the Midland Tribune, “Irish Water are simply not doing a good job. You would be hard pressed to find a single councillor anywhere in Ireland who would say they are doing a good job.
“The Lough Derg pipe project simply makes no sense to any councillor in Tipperary County Council. Some of us suspect that the Data Centres are the reason why this nonsensical project is being continuously pushed. Data Centres are massive guzzlers of water and energy. Over the last few years planning permission has been sought for 23 Data Centres in Ireland, twenty of them in Dublin.
“Meanwhile, several wastewater treatment plants in Tipperary are nearly at capacity or have reached capacity. Roscrea's wastewater treatment plant is at amber which means it's nearly at capacity. Cloughjordan's plant is at capacity which means no new building work can take place there. Ballina's plant is exceeding capacity which means sewage is spilling over.”
Cllr Morris' motion stated, “This this Council call for an independent review of the need for the Eastern and Midlands water supply project (Parteen Weir to Dublin).
“That this Council also call for the Government to include the project in its overview of strategic risk assessments in the Draft National Risk Assessment.
“My own Municipal District, Nenagh,” his motion continued, “will be most affected by this needless waste of up to 2 billion Euros of taxpayers' money in a time of prudent national budgeting. I cannot overestimate or overstate the damage which this project will do to our economy if it is allowed to go ahead. If I sound like a broken record then tough. I'm doing this for our future generations which will suffer greatly by the decisions we make now.
“I am calling for an independent review of Irish Water's over-reliance on this needless project while they have ample existing resources locally. They lose 300 million litres of treated water a day into the ground in Dublin alone. They lose 700 million litres of treated water a day into the ground in the whole country. They have 697.5 ML/d (millilitres per day) capacity as it is, with overestimated projections up to 2044, which were overestimated at 699 ML/d; and that was before Covid changed the whole game with up to 30% of people now working from home now and into the future.
“So, there is a need for a new independent review of the scheme before any more money is needlessly wasted on this.
“The fact that Irish water sees this project as the only game in town means that they have quite recklessly decided to reduce their mains replacement to just 0.3% from the 1.2% which is the basic requirement to get on top of our antiquated mains system.
“They also propose to spend only 40 million a year in replacing water pipes which is hugely unambitious when they are spending 234 million euros over the next fours years on surveys on a pipeline project which, I believe, will ultimately be scrapped.
“I am also calling,” his motion concluded, “for support for my call for this project to be included in the Draft National Risk Assessment as the NRA provides an opportunity to identify and discuss significant risks that may arise for Ireland over the short, medium and long term.”
It was pointed out during Monday's meeting that the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) put a number of questions to Irish Water regarding the proposed pipe project but were unable to get satisfactory answers. The CRU is Ireland’s independent energy and water regulator, whose purpose is to investigate major projects such as the Lough Derg pipe. The councillors said Irish Water needs to provide satisfactory answers to either the CRU or some other independent review body.
Cllr Morris told the Tribune that he was very happy with the unanimous support from the councillors.
The Chief Executive of the County Council Joe McGrath made the following response to the motion:
“This Notice of Motion refers to the lrish Water Water Supply Project Eastern and Midlands Region (WSP EMR). This Project is currently being reviewed by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). The Water Services Act 2013 requires the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, in conjunction with the Minister for public Expenditure and Reform, to provide consent for all commitments for capital expenditure above a certain threshold.
“Given the scale and importance of the WSP EMR and recognising the CRU's statutory role as independent economic regulator of lrish Water, including its role of reviewing lrish Water's capital investment plans, the then Minister for Housing, planning and Local Government (the then Deputy Eoghan Murphy), on 1st October 2018, requested the CRU to undertake the review to support the Minister's Decision in relation to the capital consent that will be required in the event that planning approval is obtained for the project. The request to the CRU is consistent with the CRU's role pursuant to Section 40 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 to advise the Minister on the development and delivery of water services. This review is ongoing.
“However, it is important to note that Tipperary County Council will be a statutory consultee as part of the planning approval process. The WSP EMR will require planning consent from An Bord Pleanála and the views of the Council must be sought by An Bord Pleanála during the statutory planning application process. The elected members will be advised accordingly at the appropriate time. For this reason, any matters relating to this proposed development are a matter for the full Council.
“The second half of the Notice of Motion requests the Government to include the WSP EMR in its overview of strategic risk assessments in the Draft National Risk Assessment (NRA).
“A draft list of risks was published in July 2021 for public consultation and this consultation process ran from 23 July 2021 to 8 September 2021. Stakeholders and members of the public were invited to provide views on the draft list of risks. The NRA process has a particular focus on strategic or structural risks. The categories of risks are based on the approach used by the World Economic Forum in its 'Global Risks Report'; these are Geopolitical, Economic, Social, Environmental and Technological. The consultation process focussed on the draft list of strategic risks rather than on specific projects.”

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